Friday, June 30, 2006

Don't emerge just yet: a postscript

Jerry, please indulge me but I think this needs to be heard and not buried in the comment section. I think the following insight is a wise and helpful reminder that "reaching out" through evangelism does not require a wholesale reappraisal to be effective. Thank you for your leadership and insight. He said:
"The "failures" in evangelism are glaring, yet, I think, misdiagnosed. The apparent ineffectiveness is almost always attributed to the lack of gospel fervor or soul-compassion. Emergents are quick to claim this because they equate their culture-friendly posture with true “outreach”. The very word “outreach”, however, demands not only taking the gospel “out” to the lost, but also offering what will actually “reach” them (Romans 1:16). Friendship along common pagan grounds will never reach anyone, and very often has the opposite result of corrupting the “evangelist”. Wayne Watson once wrote, “There’s a fine line between taking bed with a lost man, and being consumed by his way while reaching out in love…temptation’s right at your door…guard what you’re thinkin’ of, for it’s a fine line”."

"Furthermore, no honest Christian would deny that evangelicalism is diseased in this regard, but are such maladies the cause or merely symptoms of a more insidious degeneration? Where does the wholesale lack of gospel fervor come from? Do Christians suddenly lose their compassion for lost souls? I believe the root-problem is deeper. Whenever the transcendence and supernatural power of the gospel is traded for any one of a number of man-centered manipulations the cancer is effectively injected into the bloodstream. Gospel-fervor cannot feed on the impotent scraps of finiteness, nor is compassion for the souls of men poured out where there is no fear of judgment. The church’s true sickness is her endless crafting and idolatrous worship of “new and improved gospels”! The call for reform is desperately needed, but we must use the scalpel of scripture alone if we’re ever to return to true gospel passion. Radical change is needed, but not the surface innovations and rearranging suggested by those whose gospel is already vacuous. We need churches that, with contrite heart, “tremble at His word” and beseech the Lord of the harvest to send workers bearing His fruit!"

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Don't emerge just yet: part two

So why is the church so awash in a sea of culture-assessments and postmodern analyses to find out "what we're doing wrong"? One reason, I believe, is the rapid rise of evil in an historically conservative culture which always spawns a desperate counter-attack to preserve all that is treasured and familiar. In other words, the evangelical church has simply not been content with dwindling numbers, strained budgets, increased persecution, academic ridicule, and cultural marginalization. But this is precisely when the temptation to compromise is at its zenith. Instead of seeing such circumstances as "normal" (though not acceptable) in a declining culture of rebellion against God (millenniums of human history demonstrate this), we've made an idol out of "the impact we used to have", gone back to the drawing board of ministry, redefined the purpose of the church, and congratulated ourselves for our new crowds, pragmatically-gotten budgets, and fad-focused hype. Unfortunately, this new generation of ministry "architects" is too sufficiently disconnected from historical ecclesiology and theology to have any idea what they've crafted. They are truly a "generation who knows not Joseph". Who determined that we were doing something wrong? How was it determined? "The church is old-fashioned and out-dated" some will argue. OK, update your illustrations, modernize some of the churches great hymnology, write new songs, use technology, aggressively evangelize, let your presence be known, etc. I agree that these methodologies aren't really the issue. But if everything about the worship of God's people is "up for grabs" and dispensable simply because the culture seems more disinterested than ever, then the emerging church is not a "church" at all, but just another paradigm shift among pagans---a new way of "feeling" like they spiritually and morally matter in this life.

Another reason for this sprint toward “a new kind of church” is the disappearance of the universal necessity of the cross. When ministry becomes an attempt to subjectively “touch” the hearts of individuals rather than bring them face to face with their actual condition and ultimate need, the necessity of the cross is eliminated! Sin is no longer the result of natural corruption but the unfortunate outcome of limited knowledge, unfulfilled expectations, and overwhelming odds. Today’s average postmodern “reachable” is therefore not looking for a savior but a sympathizer who understands their plight from their vantage point. They don’t want a God whose friendship is conditioned upon obeying another master but a supplier who meets them at their desire. Professions of “faith” are merely pledges to join a less stringent religious group whose god demands nothing. Guilt from sin is more of an unfortunate inconvenience in an otherwise deserving, worthy, and loveable life. If a gospel is offered in these “churches”, it is often reduced to an acknowledgment that the historical Jesus “died for sinners”, while the new “convert” retains his/her sense of significant wholeness, allowing God to make him/her feel more deserving, worthy, and loveable. Trusting in the Holy Spirit to regenerate by means of His truth quickly becomes a forgotten essential. David Wells was poignant when he said, “The church [has adopted] strategies that…it is hoped, will make up for the apparent insufficiency of the word and ensure more success in the culture.” Furthermore, if human beings are not thoroughly corrupt and in dire straits with a holy God one wonders why God made such a big deal of Jesus’ death at all. Such a horrific bloodletting for the unavoidable mistakes of otherwise good people? Whatever for?

If today's "purpose-wars" tell us anything, it's that we must let God define the postmodern heart and the means to "reach them". I don’t believe today’s postmodernist truly values anything but themselves. Indeed, that’s what makes them postmodern, believing in no objective reality or meaning outside of the one they create. Reaching their ears with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ is our most awesome privilege and responsibility! But reaching their hearts with the gospel’s life-giving power is God’s sovereign joy. I long to see God move mightily in the hearts of sinners, but I shudder to think that some might find today’s “emerging authenticity” more attractive than truth. In fact, until they face the truth on God’s terms and stop haranguing about what they think the church ought to offer, they can never know saving grace. We should not be surprised that our culture is in a rapid declension away from truth, clarity, logic, and true meaning (2 Tim. 3-4). We must trust implicitly in the saving power of God to regenerate hearts---A work He has not ceased to do as He builds His hell-defying church. If we lose the battle here, we are no different than those who consider the preaching of the gospel as "foolishness".

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Was Jesus an expository preacher?

In his The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures: The Biblical Period, Hughes Oliphant Old makes the following points that Jesus was not only the model for preaching but was indeed an expository preacher. What do you think?

“If we are truly to understand Christian preaching, we must see Jesus Christ as its center. First we must see Jesus as the fulfillment of generations of preaching and teaching that went before him, and second we must see Jesus as the type, or perhaps prototype, of generations of preaching that have followed him. He is both the pattern of preaching and the gospel to be preached. We preachers make sense only when we are understood as continuing the ministry of our Master” (p. 8).

“…Jesus was himself an expository preacher, as the Gospels make clear at several points. To be sure, we get only a few brief glimpses of the preaching of Jesus in the Gospels, but those brief glimpses show him explaining the text of Scripture as the classic expositors have done before and after him” (p.10).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Don't emerge just yet: part one

“To Impact the culture, we must change the way we do ministry”! We here it declared in every modern church growth book and mega-conference. The guru’s of this recent push are convinced that the present generation of young people have special needs and new values. They tell us that today’s youth are no longer reached by the aging evangelical approach of yesterday, but should be allowed to weigh in on what’s truly important for cultural impact. We are being told that our youth culture now highly esteems qualities like authenticity, credibility, and character more than the trappings of 'religion'. Is this true? Should we begin a thorough demolition of all that has gone before that we might raise up ministries of “authenticity”? I agree that such values may still be generally attractive to many, but no student of the postmodern culture (especially the youth pop-culture) could genuinely conclude that young people truly "value" or even understand character qualities such as authenticity or credibility.

What is "authenticity" anyway? Postmoderns differ greatly here, and many of them speak of it in terms that sound more like they value "non-judgmentalism" and "freedom of expression without scrutiny" (what they deem "the trappings of religion"). I've raised four children, all who've grown up in a postmodern, youth pop-culture kind of age. They've been in a pastor's home all their lives and had to forge a genuine faith of their own just like every true believer. Authenticity (i.e. true genuineness) is not at a premium in the student culture around them. What their unsaved peers value most (at least those who do the most complaining about today's church culture) is their own opinion and personal right to call it "truth" and have it validated. Anyone who disagrees is viewed as judgmental and unable to be "authentic". Furthermore, does today's average postmodern really value credibility? If so, why are their lives so rife with hypocrisy? If I claim to value credibility and find fault with a religion that seems out of touch and hypocritical, yet I make no attempt to model the quality I "value", am I not the greater hypocrite? If an unsaved postmodern attends our ministry looking for "credibility", becomes uncomfortable with our ministry “culture”, and concludes that we've missed it, have we "failed to reach them"? Should we adjust the worship of our God to become "credible" by their definition? Or could it be that what they mean by "credibility" is really a church's "willingness to adopt cultural norms and embrace other lifestyles indiscriminately”?

I find that when postmoderns speak about how the 21st century church ought to "emerge", they camp on two major themes: Their disillusionment over the hypocrisy of the evangelical church (sadly, a legitimate complaint), and the urgent need to jettison every vestige of Christian heritage in favor of what they deem "cutting edge" and therefore "relevant". Moreover, they tend to use the above as an excuse to justify their new ideas instead of offering sound biblical proof as to why the church ought to morph as they suggest. I speak with unsaved college students (who are curious and like to debate the issues) all the time, and what is clear from our interaction is that they value worldliness, autonomy, and the fewest scruples possible, all the while sensing the emptiness of these things. Whenever talk of biblical credibility and character arises they are suddenly in a dilemma. Their conscience bears them witness that the truth is being spoken, but a rebellious heart and sinful habits drown it out. Is this the time to ask them in what context or in what way they prefer to hear these things? A lost man doesn't even know how to make sense of all the converging desires within him, much less what he really needs. That's why the scriptures are so thorough on the convicting work of the Spirit. Before the Spirit's drawing, I had all kinds of religious notions but no clue as to real spiritual realities (holiness, sin, judgment, saving grace, the Church, etc.). No postmodern can ever "determine" what kind of church can "reach" his/her culture, and to believe they can is like asking a fish to describe its surroundings and expecting it to mention the water!

What was I thinking?

Now that I have seriously lowered the level of discourse on this otherwise distinguished blog with what one called my "beer in the rear chicken" post, I will try to redeem this space with some more thoughtful entries. Nevertheless, I hope the point of said post was not lost on everyone.

Since all the contributors here are preachers, we find that our first love (gasp) is not blogging. Therefore we do not sit all day behind a computer screen surfing the blog wave hoping to catch a big one. Some of us (no all of us) are weighed down at the moment with funerals, weddings, counseling, doctoral work, mission trips, family life and weekly preaching duties. We love it and would not change it for a cushy IT job where blog opinions really matter. Whatever happens here is just the debris from our various ministries and we hope it helps a few others in the process.

On that note, I will pick up where I left off on "general revelation" in about another week. However, in the mean time, Jerry Wragg will be posting a series on the "emergent youth culture" which will probably bring a few lurkers out of hiding and knot-up a few turbans in the process. Have a great week!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Weekend Fun: Resolution #5 Chicken

I love to grill out and this is one the coolest creations I have enjoyed. In light of recent events, I have renamed this recipe my "resolution #5 chicken".

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Says who?

Not a few bloggers have wondered (loudly at times) why The Together for the Gospel group would include a statement about manhood and womanhood in their now famous "Affirmations and Denials". Is it true that they are simply making the fence smaller so only a few select chosen ones may enter? I don't think this is the case at all. Those men who crafted the statement have clearly shown (also here) that the issue is over the authority of Scripture without which there is no objective basis for the gospel. I noticed an insight into this from Derek Thomas on another matter. I think what he is scratching at is relevant to the point the T4G guys are making. Thomas writes:
There is a direct hermeneutical line from the denial of Jesus' maleness as central to his incarnational imaging of his Father in heaven and the trend for egalitarianism. Both deny creational order as expressive of the divine image. As worldwide Anglicanism engages in public displays of extravagant death throes, Dr Rowan Williams will be working hard to keep the fragmenting body together. Will the American Church be invited to Lambeth in 2008? Can the Anglican communion define heresy and on what basis? Clearly, the basis is no longer the Scriptures. Withdrawal over "sexual preference" other than on the basis of divine revelation will inevitably be deemed bigotry and bad taste.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Watch your language!

What do the following phrases have in common? Find out here and here.
  • Rainbow of Promise, our Ark of Salvation, and our Dove of Peace
  • Speaker, Word, and Breath
  • Overflowing Font, Living Water, Flowing River
  • Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child, and Life-giving Womb
  • Sun, Light, and Burning Ray
  • Giver, Gift, and Giving
  • Rock, Redeemer, Friend

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"New Truth" is not God's Truth: Part Two

One popular approach to the pursuit of “truth” and discovery is to examine the findings of man through what is often called “general revelation.” As we have pointed out here before, some believe that such an approach will triumph a new reformation whereby the church will become more enlightened and accepting of newer positions on issues such as homosexuality. While a rigorous debate over the biblical teaching of homosexuality has been raging for some time there is a more fundamental area that has been largely ignored. Many proponents of this new way have made the claim that discoveries being observed under the sphere of general revelation should be considered truth on par with the Truth of special revelation (i.e., the Scriptures of the OT & NT). This understanding has not been limited to more progressive views of the authority of Scripture but has been largely embraced by evangelicals on many fronts who would otherwise claim an assent to inerrancy.

We should not deny that general revelation exists. However, it is important that we understand the nature and limitations of this general revelation. There are many today who are asking the question that Pilate asked before Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Sadly, just like Pilate, many of those who are asking the question have not waited for the answer. Worse still, they have sought answers to their questions from broken cisterns which carry only muddy water at best. The remainder of this post will focus on the audience of general revelation while subsequent posts will examine the content of this information and mankind’s response to it.

General revelation is called such because it consists of information that is universally made known to all people in all places at all times. There is no limit to the audience of general revelation because such knowledge is constant (cf. Psalm 19:2) and such knowledge is persistent in its reach to the ends of the earth (cf. Psalm 19:4). This means that there are no specialists who observe things that others do not (i.e., there are no secret or special insights required to see it). Not only is this true because of what is seen under the heavens in creation but because of how mankind is created. The Apostle Paul tells us that general revelation is self-evident within every human being (Rom. 1:19). Man and woman are created in the image of God and therefore bear in some way a conscious imprint of the Triune God that is inescapable (yes, even for the God-denying pagan).

So general revelation is exactly what its name entails, it is “general” information indiscriminately revealed to all creation without bias and without limitation in regards to its audience. For some to maintain that they have special insight or perspective that they have gleaned from general revelation has less in common with the Biblical teaching and more in common with ancient forms of Gnosticism. Furthermore, any “discoveries” made by man must be held up to the light of God’s special revelation and not seen for their supposed uniqueness but for their confirmation that sin and struggle are all common to man (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). Robert Thomas helps us to summarize this distinction with these concluding thoughts:
“….information and discoveries originating in secular fields do not belong in the category of God’s revealed truth. They therefore have no basis for a ranking alongside God’s special revelation. They may appear to be beneficial to one or another generation and thereby earn at least temporarily the designation of truth, but they must always be tentative because they lack the certitude and authority of God’s revealed truth. They are not on a plane with the body of truth in the Bible and are therefore unworthy of being integrated with it” (Robert Thomas, “General Revelation and Biblical Hermeneutics,” The Master’s Seminary Journal, Volume 9, 1:14-15).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"New Truth" is not God's Truth: Part One

As we reported here yesterday, there is a debate that is raging within some denominational circles about homosexuality. The basis of the argument has degenerated to the axiom that "all truth is God's Truth" therefore newer and more enlightened discoveries should have precedence over older and more “outdated” forms of understanding (e.g. the Bible).

The argument goes something like this (which can be seen in Bishop Griswold’s quote from the previous post): Since we are more enlightened being armed with more education and research concerning the inner workings of man’s psyche and physical well-being then we should eschew old ideas of biblical anthropology in exchange for a more biological understanding. The result being that God made a person such and such a way therefore any attempts to change such is a lack of love and an affront to the imago dei. Even N.T. Wright has reasoned that a decision concerning sexuality in the church should be left up to a “consensus”.

This argument while largely taking place outside of evangelical circles nevertheless reveals a fundamental weakness in many evangelicals’ notions of truth and the sufficiency of Scripture. I know many evangelical who look at passages like Psalm 19 and walk away thinking that God has revealed Himself in creation in such a way that general revelation provides us with something that the Bible does not. If you find it hard to believe that evangelicals would embrace such a perspective then I would invite you to visit the “counseling” department of most evangelical seminaries. When you’re done there visit the biology lectures of evangelical colleges. After you’ve listened to their lectures, visit the psychology, sociology, anthropology or physical science departments. Better yet let some of the leading evangelical scholars in this area speak for themselves:

“All truth is certainly God’s truth. The doctrine of general revelation provides warrant for going beyond the propositional revelation of Scripture into the secular world of scientific study expecting to find true and useable concepts” (Crabb, Effective Biblical Counseling, 36).

“The evangelical church has a great opportunity to combine the special revelation of God's Word with the general revelation studied by the psychological sciences and professions. The end result of this integration can be a broader (and deeper) view of human life” (Narramore, “Perspectives on Integration,” 17).
“My knowledge of special revelation—the Bible—would have been combined with my knowledge of general revelation—what God has taught me about his world through my study of psychology, physiology, counseling, rehabilitation, and other fields” (Collins, “An Integration View,” 117).
“Just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so too does truth, by the process that theologians call God’s common grace. Romans 1 speaks of God even revealing central truths about his nature to unbelievers (v. 19). … If we understand God’s counsel to be truth, we will be committed to pursuing truth wherever we find it. And we sometimes find it in the careful and insightful writings of unbelievers” (Jones and Butman, Modern Psychotherapies, 27-28).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"New Truth" needed says Bishop

The top official leading the Episcopal Church in the United States is retiring. Bishop Frank T. Griswold reflected on the controversy surrounding the denomination and its stance on homosexuality with these words: "In the Gospels, Jesus says, 'I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now,' which suggests to me that God's truth is always unfolding," he said. "If we can accept that there are new truths that science brings us, or new discoveries in medicine, why is it when it comes to sexuality, there is no new truth?"

His premise seems to be the old adage “all truth is God's Truth.” Have medicine and modern discoveries really brought us “new truth”? If so, does this extend to sexuality also, as the Bishop has suggested? What are the implications of this for ministry, preaching and the cooperative efforts of those who believe mainline denominations which embrace such ideas can still be turned around? Let us know what you think?

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Sermon Charge to High School Graduates (PT 2)

III. Third, you are a college student:

Ecclesiastes tells young people to “REJOICE in the days of their youth” (Eccl 11:9-10).
Yes it is spiritual to: Love life! To have a ton of fun! To truly enjoy the prime of life. You’ll only be a college student once, so live it up!!

Just remember the Biblical balance; Ephesians 5:16 commands us to, “Make the most of our time since the days are evil” Ecclesiastes 11:9 goes on to say, “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young adulthood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.” “Whatever you do, do all to His glory (1 Cor 10:31).” See your HW and your studies as a stewardship matter...Just don’t let your books get in the way of your fun too much! 

IV. Fourth, soon you will be a dormmate and a roommate:
One of the most refining aspects of college often takes place in the dorm room:

A) Here you will be tested, tried, and perhaps even tempted.

B) Here you will learn what it truly means to DIE to self.

Jesus said if anyone wishes to come after me, let him first DENY HIMSELF….(Luke 9:23)
Find ways to serve your roommate. Love her unconditionally.
Learn how you can become more like Jesus by embracing this relationship whole-heartedly
Even when you have the best roommate in the world their will be times when you feel like murdering someone…. My advice to you is simple: Resist that temptation!
 Embrace your difficult circumstances knowing they’re from the Lord (James 1:2-6).

C) In the dorms you will learn how you can humbly implement the principles found in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

D) Here you will learn how to resolve conflict Biblically-

Try to practice the “4 biblical rules of communication” from Ephesians 4.
1. Be honest!
2. Keep current!
3. Act, don’t react!
4. Attack the problem, NOT the person!
View your roommate & your dormmates as God’s sovereign agents, sent by Him to help you grow!

E) In your dorm room you will learn how to repent and how to forgive (Matt 5:23-24)

And Finally (F) In the dorms you will discover how diverse the body of Christ truly is. God has sovereignly saved: Jocks, nerds, merit scholars, home-schoolers, international students, americans, misfits, and more… God’s glory is surely displayed in this diversity (Rev 5:9). Seek out Christian friends who are red hot for Jesus- Even if they are (humanly speaking) radically different than you!

The sooner, we the church, learn to embrace God’s creative diversity the sooner we’ll be able to function as one (Eph 4:16)

(Graduate) Please know your church family will be praying for you. We are here for you if you ever need us. We are only a phone call away….

But let me close by reminding you of my favorite Bible verse in all of Scripture (Joshua 1:9). May you cling to this verse whenever you feel lonely, homesick, confused, or scared. I have seen God keep this promise in my own life as I’ve moved from WI to CA; CA to WA; WA to CA; CA to FL; FL to CA; and CA to IN.

God said to Joshua before he possessed the land of Canaan;
“Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.”

If God be for you- who or what can stand against you (Romans 8:28-39)?!?

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Sermon Charge to High School Graduates (PT 1)

I am giving a brief sermon charge to our High School graduates this Sunday. Actually, this year we will only be honoring one student (last year it was four).

We are gathered here tonight to praise God for the infinite grace that has been displayed in your life!

We want to congratulate you on all your accomplishments; We want to thank you for your faithfulness to this Church and to our youth group in particular; & tonight as your teen pastor, I’d like to briefly encourage you from Holy Scripture as you prepare to leave home and begin an exciting journey at Grace College.

I think the best way I can accomplish this goal is by looking at the various roles you have (or will soon have) and discover what God’s Word has to say about each of these important responsibilities:

This is my personal charge to you that I trust will reflect God’s priorities (not merely my opinions)….

I. First and foremost you are a child of God:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourself lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8) God graciously saved you and I know you’ve dedicated your life to His service!  You are a Christian, a disciple of Christ’s.

It has been a privilege to see you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You’ve been blessed with a remarkable memory and a sharp mind. Your passion for reading books and learning is exemplary; Your creative use of your imagination is a wonderful endowment…

-->Continue to use these gifts for God’s glory! (1 Peter 4:10ff)

With that said:
1) Never allow yourself to think you’ve somehow arrived.

Philippians 3:12 says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Keep on pressing on!

2) Avoid comparing your spiritual walk with others; Rather focus your attention on the Author and the Perfecter of your faith.

Christ-likeness is the standard and our objective (1 Peter 1:14-16). Also remember the inspired words of Paul in 1 Thess 4:10, “But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more…”
“Excel still more” in your faith

From my own personal experience, I know that Christian college students are especially vulnerable to spiritual pride… After all the Apostle Paul said, “that knowledge (alone) puffeth up.”

3) Continue then to grow in humility, gentleness, and grace as you no doubt will grow in knowledge, understanding, and theological wit… (See C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness)

4) I encourage you to seek wise counsel from godly dorm friends, your RD, and your parents; BUT ONLY after you’ve 1st asked God for wisdom and direction.
Proverbs 3:5-6 remind us to, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

If, and when problems arise in your life, make sure that first you take everything to the Lord.

It’s a great blessing being able to attend a solid Christian college. I encourage you to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Learn all you can from your new Christian friends, your Christian professors, and your RAs.

5) Constantly remind yourself though that with great privilege, comes great stewardship.
Jesus said to “whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48)

6) As a child of God don’t forget how important daily bible devotions are to your spiritual growth.

It’s easy to dry up even when you’re in the right place-

Don’t neglect the Bible! For it was the Word of God that made you wise unto salvation and it is the sacred Scriptures that will sanctify your very soul (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

1 Peter 2:2 says, “like new born infants LONG for the pure milk of the Word that by It, you may grow in respect to your salvation.”

Pray that your love for Jesus Christ will deepen as a result of these times!!

7) One last thing: Don’t let anyone tell you that Bible classes, chapel, dorm devotions, and parachurch ministries can usurp the central role of the local Church!

The Scriptures are clear that Christ’s bride has a unique place in God’s Kingdom program. The local church is the visible representation of the body of Christ! Make it a priority to plug yourself into a biblical church! One where you can be feed, discipled, and cared for; One where you can use your spiritual gifts & talents for the edification of the local church and the glory of God!

If you do these things I truly believe you will grow into the Proverbs 31 women that all of us desire you to become!

 Never forget, you are first and foremost a child of God! 

II. Second, you still are your parent’s daughter:

Like most Christian college students I’m guessing you are still very much financially dependent on your parents?!? 

That of course means that you’re still obligated to obey and honor them as Ephesians 6:1-3 says; Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

 When you’re up at night eating ice-cream, painting toe nails, or maybe just cramming for a chemistry quiz take a moment to stop and thank God for giving you Christian parents. Try and find a free moment every week (or so) to call your mom. Take a minute or two to send your dad a post-card reminding him how much you love and miss him; & if you have any free time don’t forget to send an email to your lonely siblings, esp. your older brother! 

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What are you currently reading?

It's ministry share time: What are you currently reading? How have you enjoyed these books? What are you learning? How have these books impacted your preaching? etc...

Books I am currently reading:

1. No Place for Truth (by David F. Wells).
2. The Cross and Christian Ministry (by D.A. Carson).
3. Women's Ministry in the Local Church (by Ligon Duncan)
4. Knowing God (By J.I. Packer)
5. The Holiness of God (by R.C. Sproul)
6. Growing Up Christian (by Karl Graustein)

Recently I noticed my relationship with God was growing dull and that my love for Christ (at times) was pretty luke-warm thus the need for a heavy dose of Theology Proper. My study through Knowing God has been VERY refreshing. Theology Proper is so crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with the Father. It has been said of John Calvin that no man had a more profound understanding of God than he. It is no wonder why his preaching was so powerful and why his theological insights are so profound. He had an intimate relationship with his Creator. If God is not BIG in the pulpit then we have ample reasons to mourn. If God is not awesome in the pulpit than we shouldn't be surprised when we hear that our people are timid, depressed, anxious, and/or proud.

The Holiness of God (my first time reading it) has been really convicting. Sadly, I bring God way down, way too often (when people are big and God is small syndrome). Thankfully He is not like me in SOO many ways. The Holiness of God has helped remind me of this reality. First and foremost we need to KNOW our God.

No Place for Truth has been a long but very good read. If you love history and evangelical theology than this book is a must read. It's been very insightful as i seek to better understand the modern culture as well as the Church.

My reading through Women's Ministry in the Local Church has been ok. In my judgment it is way too "Covenantal" (in really too many unnecessary places)... Their are some really great thoughts scattered throughout the book but all in all it has not been one of my favorite books on the subject.

The Cross and Christian Ministry has been a good challange to me in many ways. Our ministries must be cross-focused.
Honestly i have not made my way very far in this book so more to come on this book...